The number of students applying for nursing courses in the UK has increased by a third compared to last year, according to data published on Thursday.
The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) on Thursday published data on the full-time undergraduate applications it had received by the January deadline (Jan. 29).
Among the 616,360 applicants, almost one in ten (60,130) applied for nursing courses, representing an increase of (32 percent) on last year—16,560 of them are 18-year-old school leavers (up 27 percent on the previous year and record high), and 10,770 are mature students aged 35 and over, a 39 percent jump from 2020.
Numbers of nursing applicants across other age groups have also increased, with 30–34-year-old and 25–29-year-old age groups seeing the largest increase, both by 45 percent.
Ruth May, chief nursing officer for NHS England said the surge in interest in nursing is “great news” for the public and the health sector.
“During COVID-19, the level of interest in working for the NHS has trumped lots of other careers [sic] options, and that speaks volumes about how people recognise our profession, particularly following our most challenging year,” May said in a statement.
“We hope that we can inspire even more people to consider a rewarding career in the NHS in the near future,” she added.
The government also welcomed the news.
“I’m so pleased that applications to nursing courses in England are up over a third. THANK YOU to everyone working to make a difference,” Health Secretary Matt Hancock wrote on Twitter.
“This is a really big step forward in delivering on our target of 50,000 more nurses by the end of this parliament,” he wrote in another tweet.
I’m delighted that the figures show an increase of a third in the number of people who have applied to study nursing.
This is a really big step forward in delivering on our target of 50,000 more nurses by the end of this parliament. pic.twitter.com/UoZLg0LyHk
— Matt Hancock (@MattHancock) February 18, 2021
In December 2019 the government introduced a £5,000 ($7,000) per year training grant for health profession students to help them with living costs.
According to UCAS, the overall number of applicants for undergraduate courses has risen by 8.5 percent from last year, and it’s a new record for the number of applicants by January deadlines.
The number of applicants from outside of the EU has also hit a new record, at 85,610, up 17 percent from 2020. Applicants from China, India, and the United States have increased by 21 percent (25,810), 25 percent (7,820), and 61 percent (6,670) respectively.
UCAS said students can continue to apply for undergraduate courses until the end of June, as long as there are places available.